Hubert Immler is a kind man who loves a joke. He is also a ski boot genius. If you have a Lange, Atomic, Nordica, Technica, or HEAD ski boot, Immler has influenced your skiing. His influence on boots is everywhere. For decades Immler has been at the forefront of boot design, testing, fitting and setup.
Red Bull boot?
As you know, Ski Racing Media keeps an eye on the talent that is transferring to Van Deer-Red Bull Sports Equipment. Now we see the wizard of ski boots has joined the program. We are currently trying to confirm his role. It would be an extremely extravagant hire if he only does boot work for the five signed athletes. Therefore, Ski Racing Media is watching to see if a Red Bull boot is coming soon. Far-fetched, maybe, but possible, yes.
Immler contributes to boot development
No matter what the future brings, Immler deserves recognition from our community. Immler would be elected on the first ballot if a ski boot hall of fame existed. Perhaps the only person who has influenced boots more is the American Robert Lange. After all, in the 60s, Lange brought us the plastic boot. By the way, Howard Head was also an American. Head was an aeronautical engineer who pioneered laminating aluminum layers into commercially produced skis. It should be known that U.S. citizens pioneered two of the most significant ski equipment innovations.
Immler is an unassuming, friendly Austrian who can’t say good enough or no. He started his career in equipment like many Austrians as a ski test glider, working for Kästle. But Immler’s first ski boot service position was with Lange. He provided Lange boot service for the ÖSV from 1994 through 1996. He said the first year he only had Kilian Albrecht, Hans Knauss and Günther Mader. The following year he says the Austrian Lange team grew to 40+ athletes. Immler says, “Good thing I was young.” Good thing he can’t say no.
Immler influences Atomic boots
In 1996 Atomic hired Immler where he led the development of the unique Tritech boot. This boot was simultaneously both traditional and out of the box. To develop the boot Immler closely collaborated with Norwegian superstar Lasse Kjus. In 1999, working together, they won five medals at the Vail/Beaver Creek World Champs, three silver and two gold. Immler reports that Kjus used four different boots for the five races, and he had never skied on any of them before arriving in Colorado.
Although the Tritech boot was very successful, it was not widely accepted. Undeterred, Immler developed a boot that would work for everyone. He has forgotten the name, but it might’ve been the RT. This boot changed the trajectory of Atomic boots and is still the basis of the Atomic boot used today.
Eventually, the white and red boot was waiting for Daron Rahlves and Bode Miller. Ultimately, the white boot with the red cuff was the boot Bode would use to win his first overall World Cup and his first downhill. But by that time, Immler had already moved on.
Immler innovates with Techinca/Nordica
Always looking for the next challenge, after leading the development of the Atomic boot, he moved to Technica/Nordica in 2002. He recalls one of his first meetings. He puts both the Nordica and the Technica on the table and states, “This is a Doberman, and this—well, this is a St. Bernard.” Fortunately, they had a sense of humor and provided Immler with the resources to develop the Technica Diablo. He tinkered to improve the exceptional Doberman, but the Diablo was his youngest brainchild. How good was the Diablo boot? After four years of development, in 2006, Austrian Reinfried Herbst and Tanja Poutiainen of Finland won Olympic medals using the Immler-designed boot. Now, who is a St. Bernard?
HEAD brings him close to home
While working with Technica and Nordica, Immler got the call from the company closest to his home. In the spring of 2006, HEAD signed two superstars and didn’t have a competitive boot. But soon they would have Immler combined with the resources of Johan Eliasch. The two stars were, Bode Miller and Didier Cuche. Immler answered the bell by designing and building the original HEAD Raptor in a few short months. That season Cuche won his first Downhill Globe and Bode won his 2nd Super-G Globe. The following year Miller added his second overall. Then, in 2010, Ted Ligety joined the elite group of athletes at HEAD and won four GS globes on a Immler boot.
Immler was hard at work developing another promising and innovative boot in 2019. But by then, HEAD had moved in a new direction and committed fully to the new approach.
German federation takes advantage
Unfortunately, Immler didn’t have a boot to innovate for the first time in decades. But his involvement with race boots never ended. Germany had some of the world’s most knowledgeable coaches and convinced the federation to bring Immler into their pool of equipment experts. For the next three years, Immler would experiment with everything possible to make boots work perfectly for German athletes.
Future for Immler?
So it was no surprise when it was revealed that Immler had left Germany to work with Van Deer. I called to ask about his role there, but when asked about Van Deer, Immler referred SRM to Toni Giger. Giger is the man who has known all the secrets at the ÖSV for decades and is now working with Red Bull managing the Van Deer and Augment ski projects. We asked Giger if an Immler-designed Van Deer-Red Bull Sports Equipment race boot is in the future. We are waiting for a response. Either way, Immler has earned everything good that has come his way.
Hopefully, the wizard of ski boots will have one more opportunity to put buckles in just the right place and attach the cuff in a position that optimizes performance. Will he again choose perfect materials for liners, shells and tongues? We know he will strive to make every boot he works on perfect. Immler has never been able to say good enough or no.